State-by-State Surrogacy Laws: Surrogacy in South Carolina
In South Carolina there are no statues or published case law which permits. restricts, or prohibits surrogacy. There is one notable case (South Ins. Co. v. Doe, 274 F.Supp.2d 757),which mentions the existence of gestational surrogacy arrangements and uses a surrogacy contract as proof of intent with respect to parentage. This acknowledgement suggests surrogacy agreements are considered enforceable in the state. Overall, however, South Carolina has not taken a legislative position on whether surrogacy is an acceptable form of family building or contrary to public policy. Despite that, South Carolina is considered a surrogacy-friendly state and many county courts have ruled favorably on pre-birth orders with respect to children born via surrogacy.
It’s important to know that the absence of formal laws governing surrogacy does not mean it can’t be practiced safely and ethically. Modern surrogacy (via embryo implantation also called gestational surrogacy) has existed for over 30 years. Since then, professionals in the field have thoughtfully created industry standards and best practices designed to protect the health and rights of surrogates, the parental rights of Intended Parents, and the children born via surrogacy. Attorneys that specialize in surrogacy have a proven track record of overseeing surrogacy arrangements so that they are completed with safety, legality, and ethics in mind. Surrogacy agreements are robust documents meant to cover all contingencies so that all parties are adequately protected in any scenario.
When deciding to undergo a surrogacy journey we know that acknowledging you’re ready can be an intimidating first step. If you’ve done your research and gone through a period of personal introspection, it can feel less daunting. When you’re ready, you will need to have conversations with a surrogacy-specializing attorney to make sure surrogacy is right for you. Surrogacy Place has a compiled list of surrogacy-specializing attorneys that are available to assist you with your surrogacy journey needs.
Keep in mind that most surrogacy agreements use the state the surrogate is a resident of as jurisdiction. In more unusual cases, agreements can reflect the state of residence of the Intended Parents, where the embryo transfer will take place, or even the location of the planned birth. A qualified attorney can help you determine jurisdiction and can discuss your options with you.
Are surrogates allowed to receive compensation for surrogacy in South Carolina?
There are no laws addressing surrogacy in South Carolina and therefore no limitations on surrogate compensation for a gestational carrier. That is not the case for traditional surrogacy where the traditional carrier is genetically related to the child(ren) she is carrying as her own egg is used. Traditional surrogacy is governed by South Carolina’s adoption regulations which prohibit biological parents from being compensated for relinquishing their parental rights. Traditional surrogates can only receive direct reimbursement of certain categories of expenses including pregnancy-related healthcare, counseling services, housing, and groceries. Traditional carriers may not receive compensation. Given these restrictions, almost all surrogacy in the state is done by gestational carriers who carry an embryo they have no biological relation to. In contrast to traditional surrogacy, gestational surrogates can charge whatever fee they desire in addition to having all of their pregnancy-related costs covered.
Can I be an Intended Parent or surrogate if I live in South Carolina?
Absolutely. Though there’s an absence of laws regarding gestational surrogacy in the Palmetto State, assisted reproduction-specializing attorneys and IVF clinics have established protocols and standards so that the rights of all parties are well protected going into a surrogacy arrangement.
Straight and LGBTQ+ individuals alike can apply for pre-birth parentage orders, though results do vary by county. Some judges may discriminate or not be keen to issue pre-birth orders for surrogacy altogether. Whether you are biological related to the child(ren) or whether you are married or single can determine whether a pre-birth order is available. You will need to speak with a qualified attorney to discuss your specific circumstances. In instances where pre-birth orders are unavailable or denied, post-birth adoptions (stepparent or second-parent) are available. Establishing parentage can be a legally complicated process, so always use an experienced attorney.
Do I need to enter into an exclusive contract with a surrogacy agency? Or can I self-match?
You never need to use a surrogacy agency to find a match or manage your surrogacy journey. Independent journeys (where an agency is not used) are becoming more popular for good reason. Many surrogates and Intended Parents have undergone surrogacy arrangements successfully without agencies. Beyond cost considerations, many folks undergoing surrogacy actively prefer not having an agency in the picture. Surrogacy Place exists to enable surrogacy journeys without agencies by providing tools for self-matching and independent surrogacy.
I am certain I’d make a great surrogate, what are the qualifications for surrogacy in South Carolina?
There are many requirements that pertain to general and pregnancy health, history and lifestyle, and reasons for wanting to be a surrogate. Take our short quiz to help you determine if surrogacy is a good fit.
If you’re looking to become a gestational carrier, you typically should meet these requirements:
- You have a complete family. You do not want any more kids of your own.
- You possess an intense and sincere desire to help others. You are interested in surrogacy beyond financial considerations.
- You have excellent physical and mental health. You have never experienced pregnancy complications including placental abruption/previa, preeclampsia, and postpartum depression.
- Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is below 32. Individual clinics may have further requirements.
- You are (will be) between 21-42 years old.
- You do not currently receive any type of government-funded aid and have no plans to apply in the short term. You do not need surrogacy as a means to support yourself.
- You have had no more than 3 c-sections.
If you fall into the criteria outlined above, an Intended Parent(s)’s Reproductive Endocrinologist may be likely to approve you for surrogacy during their official evaluation. Only qualified physicians are able to ascertain if you are able to safely and responsibly become pregnancy via surrogacy.
Most surrogacy journeys follow the same steps: first the matching phase where surrogates and Intended parents agree on journey partners, followed by a legal negotiations period where terms are finalized and administrative aspects of surrogacy are outlined or completed with the help of an attorney. When all requirements are met, an embryo will be transferred. Surrogates are always represented by an attorney of their choosing, though their legal bills are always covered by Intended Parents. Surrogates should never cover their own legal costs.
Independent matching in South Carolina
With Surrogacy Place, you have access to robust tools designed to help surrogates and Intended Parents search and match based on key parameters. Looking for surrogates based in South Carolina? Try using our database’s location search filters.
Surrogacy Place’s self-matching platform is free for surrogates; Intended Parents pay a small fee to enable messaging and complete profile views. Take a peek inside by creating your account.
Is self-managed independent surrogacy right for me?
You should consider it if you’re an Intended Parent that isn’t super wealthy. But even if you have the cash to spare, there are several compelling reasons to consider an independent journey and not use a surrogacy agency. Agencies generally have very long wait times. This is because there are so many agencies out there and they can only sign on a very limited number of surrogates at once. Many agencies don’t have a database of surrogates, they’re simply matching surrogates as they procure them. This creates a backlog where you’re simply waiting until an agency signs up a new surrogate in hopes that they meet your criteria. On the other side, surrogates are sometimes pushed to match with Intended Parents that have been waiting the longest, not necessarily the ones that most closely align with their values and pregnancy/birth plans. Many surrogates also find they’re better able to determine their own compensation base without pressure from an agency that wants them to meet the quoted “all in” pricing they give to Intended Parents.
Read more information on some of the considerations surrogates have when deciding to do an independent journey vs. using an agency.
Intended Parents – formulating your potential surrogacy budget? Check out this typical costs budget sheet.
Looking outside of South Carolina? We have info across the 50 states in our surrogacy-overview-from-each-state.